Angry Robot, the upcoming SF/F/WTF?! imprint from Harper Collins, is running a contest in which the winner will receive their first seven books. All you have to do is come up with an award-winning name for the angry robot:

To enter the contest, go to the Name that Droid page. And if you saw it on this site and happen to win, I could win some sort of mysterious and awesome prize too.

Personally, I’m curious about exactly what ticked the robot off… Any ideas?

Blue Diablo
by Ann Aguirre
336pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Amazon Rating: N/A
LibraryThing Rating: 4.33/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.11/5

Blue Diablo is the first novel in the Corine Solomon urban fantasy series by Ann Aguirre (it is due to be released on April 7). According to Aguirre’s website, the next two books will be called Hell Fire and Shady Lady and will be released in April 2010 and April 2011, respectively. I have read Aguirre’s first two novels in the Jax science fiction series and found both to be very entertaining, fast-paced stories that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish – so I knew I had to read Blue Diablo when I first heard about it. Although I still slightly prefer the Jax books, this was a new story that contained many of the elements I enjoyed about the other series and I’ll still be picking up any novel Aguirre writes as soon as I can get a hold of it.

For the last eighteen months, Corine Solomon has managed to leave her old life behind and is happy living a quiet life running a pawn shop in Mexico. She still fears someone from her past will some day find her – a fear that comes true when the main reason she left, her ex-boyfriend Chance, shows up at her store. Corine has no intention of having anything to do with Chance again, even though she still has feelings for him, until she learns the news that someone very important to both of them mysteriously disappeared. Since Corine is a handler, someone who can touch an item and discern its history, she has helped find missing persons in the past and may be the only chance they have of locating this missing person.

In spite of her concern about the situation, Corine is still hesitant to join forces with Chance once again. The two of them used to work together to solve cases, and Corine left after she almost died because Chance insisted they could handle a particularly dangerous opponent. Because of this, Corine came to the conclusion that Chance only cared about her for the income from her ability and took off in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye. But Chance is no ordinary man himself with his talent of luck and offers to use his extraordinary skill to get her the revenge she has always wanted in return for her aid.

Blue Diablo is a short, absorbing book that kept me turning the pages. Although it is urban fantasy with a mystery and romance, it did not contain the typical paranormal creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, and fae. The fantasy elements were black magic, sorcerers and witches, ghosts, and people with abilities.

This book is very similar in style to the novels in the Jax series. The story is told from the first person point of view of the heroine, who has a humorous tone to her narrative. The chapters end on a cliffhanger or with a phrase that doesn’t explain exactly what happened so you want to start the next chapter right away. There is not a large amount of backstory or setup before it starts getting interesting and draws you in. Immediately, we know that Corine has a dark past that she is trying to stay away from, and only 4 pages in, Chance shows up and turns her life upside down. There is no time wasted in getting to the heart of what the story is about – solving the mystery and Corine’s struggles with her past, her ability, and the man she cares for but feels she can’t be with.

Also like the Jax books, the characters are broken people who have had hard lives and any power they have comes with a price. During her childhood, Corine gained psychometry as a gift from her mother, who passed it on to her when their house was deliberately burned down. Every single time Corine uses her ability, her hands literally burn and she remembers her mother’s death and the guilt of obeying her mother’s wish that Corine get out of there as fast as possible, even if it means leaving her behind. Likewise, Chance has good luck, which sounds like it really can’t go wrong. Who wouldn’t like their life to be full of occurrences such as randomly running into people who owe them tons of money when they could really use the cash? However, he also attracts chaos and although he’s fortunate enough to escape the consequences, the people he cares about who are with him do not – and he can do nothing about it since it’s something that happens to him naturally and he can’t just stop being lucky.

This novel did have more focus on romantic relationships than the Jax books. Chance wants to get Corine back, but she doesn’t feel that getting back together with him would be very smart. Meanwhile, she’s getting to know a hunky empath who can teach her about being gifted, but she’s not sure if he is truly attracted to her or only thinks he is since he can feel her attraction to him. I did enjoy the romance, but at times, I found it rather wearisome when Corine would go on and on about how hot one of the guys looked.

The main mystery plot is wrapped up by the end of the book, although there is certainly plenty of room for sequels. I did think the ending was a bit rushed and anti-climactic since it was resolved in one short chapter.

Blue Diablo is another exciting page turner from Ann Aguirre. The conclusion was a bit weak and there was sometimes a bit too much focus on descriptions of physical attraction for my personal taste, but I still had so much fun reading it that I can hardly wait for the next one.


Read the first chapter


Sorry I didn’t get to post this earlier but I’ve been at work all day and just got back not that long ago. Ann announced the winner this morning in the giveaway post comments, but just in case no one saw it there, the winner is:


Congratulations! Send your mailing info to aztleclady1 at gmail dot com in order to receive your copy of Blue Diablo. Happy reading!
As my birthday present to myself I snagged a post by a guest author for today, and she’s one of my favorite new authors! The Fantasy Cafe is happy to welcome Ann Aguirre, author of the immensely entertaining space operas Grimspace and Wanderlust and the forthcoming urban fantasy novel Blue Diablo (release date April 7). Below Ann talks about her experiences with reading fantasy and offers the chance for one of you to win a copy of Blue Diablo!

My Life-long love

I love fantasy. I always have.

My first memory of reading a fantasy novel: I was eight years old, and someone was in the hospital. I suspect it was one of my grandparents, but I cannot be sure because I had a copy of The Hobbit in my hands. I’d checked it out at the library and I was lost in that book. I know I sat in that hard vinyl chair in the waiting room for hours, but I don’t remember any of that day. I remember only the book I was reading at the time.

Once I discovered Tolkien’s other works, I devoured those quickly. And then I realized he was the founding father of a whole, magical realm of fiction. Each week, I went to the mall and browsed my Waldenbooks for likely candidates. I discovered Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony, almost straightaway.

This is what I spent my allowance on as a kid. After I got my first job, I put part of the money in my gas tank; the rest I spent on books. In college, I was much the same, but there were certain authors I would buy instead of food. Sharon Shinn was one of them.

So clearly I can remember how I felt when I discovered her books for the first time. I was in a dungeon of a shop in Muncie, Indiana. I didn’t really want to be there because, frankly, they sold gaming stuff: Dungeons and Dragons, sourcebooks, dice, graph paper, and pewter miniatures. I wanted to be in a proper bookstore because I had a little money to spend. (My part-time job as a pharmacy tech paid all of $4 an hour.) But I had gamer friends (and I played too, but my great love has always been books), so I was hanging around the store, waiting for them. As I wandered, I eventually came upon a wire book rack. It mostly had TSR novels (Drizzt, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance) and maybe a few White Wolf stories. I was spinning it listlessly when this fey cover art caught my eye.

Hm, what’s this? I asked myself, plucking the book from the rack. The Shapechanger’s Wife. I read the back and it sounded wonderful, so I bought it at once. While they finished shopping, I hugged the paper bag to my chest and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. In short, I devoured that one in a few hours and then from that point on, I would buy whatever she released, even if I had to dine on ramen… or nothing at all. The coolest thing about Sharon Shinn is that so many years later, I’ve had the pleasure of her reading my book for a blurb—and then I met her last summer. After that, I cried tears of pure joy over a dream come true. It’s so wonderful when your idols turn out to be even more amazing than you dreamed.

What authors do you love like that? A random commenter will win a copy of Blue Diablo.

Giveaway Rules
1) The winner will be selected within 24 hours.
2) The winner will be contacted via email by azteclady, therefore a valid email address must be provided for the comment to be entered in the giveaway (this can be through your own blog or website).

Thank you Ann! For the record, after reading this I almost bought Archangel by Sharon Shinn, but unfortunately my local Borders was out. That won’t stop me for long, though…

This year, Jacqueline Carey has two new novels coming out and the first chapter of each is on her website. Santa Olivia, a novel about superheroes and the werewolf myth, will be available on May 29. Naamah’s Kiss, the first book in a new trilogy set in the same world as Kushiel’s Legacy, will be released on June 24.


Blood Bound
by Patricia Briggs
304pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.24/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.31/5

Blood Bound is the second book in the popular Mercedes Thompson urban fantasy series by New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs. Currently, there are four books in this series and one book in the Alpha and Omega series set in the same world with the second novel forthcoming this summer. The first book in the Mercedes Thompson series is Moon Called and the third and fourth are Iron Kissed and Bone Crossed (which was just released in hardcover last month). When completed, the series will contain at least seven books.

Mercy owes the vampire Stefan a favor – a fact of which he reminds her at 3 am one morning when she had been sound asleep. Although she does not understand why he wants her to be a witness when he visits another vampire, Mercy agrees to go with him since a promise is a promise. After changing into a coyote, Mercy accompanies Stefan as his “intimidating pet” and immediately smells trouble when they reach their destination. She cannot do anything but watch in horror (although she does try) as the other vampire immobilizes Stefan, one of the more powerful vampires himself, and murders a woman before their eyes.

Once she returns home, Mercy discovers that Stefan does not remember events the same way she does and recalls killing the woman himself. He suspected this vampire tampered with a friend’s memory and wanted to bring someone with some immunity to a vampire’s magic with him in hopes of clearing his friend’s name. As Stefan suspected, this is no ordinary vampire but also a sorcerer – and he must be stopped before more innocents are harmed.

While Moon Called introduced the werewolf community, Blood Bound focuses on the vampires of the Tri-City area, although the werewolves still play a large role. I’ve never been a huge fan of vampires and still think I would not enjoy a book featuring vampires as the main character(s). In spite of that, I did really like Stefan, which may partially be because it is so easy to forget he is supposed to be a vampire (at least until he needs a place to spend the day and Mercy can’t sleep knowing there’s a dead man in her closet). Most of the vampires in this series are evil and not to be trusted, but Stefan seems to genuinely care about his friends, although he is clearly not a saint, either. He’s also very quirky; for instance, Stefan drives a van painted to look like the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, which is a very amusing mental image.

From chapter one, I felt Blood Bound was an improvement over the first book in this series. Moon Called felt like the first book in a series since there was a great deal of exposition and setting up who everyone was and how they related to each other. That’s not to say that this novel did not contain quite a few explanations that Mercy explained in the first book, but there was less of it and Mercy had a more easygoing and humorous voice in this book that I just loved. All it took was the opening paragraphs to hook me:

Like most people who own their own businesses, I work long hours that start early in the morning. So when someone calls me in the middle of the night, they’d better be dying.

“Hello, Mercy,” said Stefan’s amiable voice in my ear. “I wonder if you could do me a favor.”

Stefan had done his dying a long time ago, so I saw no reason to be nice. “I answered the phone at ” – I peered blearily at the red numbers on my bedside clock – “three o’clock in the morning.”

Okay, that’s not exactly what I said. I may have added a few of those words a mechanic picks up to use at recalcitrant bolts and alternators that land on their toes.

“I suppose you could go for a second favor,” I continued, ” but I’d prefer you hang up and call me back at a more civilized hour.”

This might make her sound nastier than she is, but I don’t think I’d be too happy if my phone rang at 3:00 AM and someone wanted me to do them a favor when I had to be to work in the morning, either. In the end, Mercy did as he asked because she owed him and he’s a friend of hers and was glad she did it since having a reliable witness might help them dispose of a great evil. Whenever she gets into trouble, it seems to be when she’s aiding someone else. Mercy is loyal and courageous and will take risks to help her friends but she’s also not stupid – if someone else is better suited to getting the job done, she’ll stand back and let them.

As with the first book, do not judge this book by its cover, which is the absolute worst one in the series. After reading the first three books, I really just cannot picture Mercy running around with her shirt hanging open like that without a good reason. And, well, I just can’t think of a good reason to be outside facing danger with a wrench in one hand and one’s bra hanging out. Mercy is a practical woman and not the type of person to run around half naked throwing herself at men (or potential villains) at all. Do not be mislead by the picture of the female falling out of her top, there is no sex in this book (although there is sexual tension as the Mercy-Adam-Samuel love triangle continues).

Blood Bound is an entertaining, quick read with a great female protagonist. I’d say I’m looking forward to the next book but I’ve already read it.


Read Chapter One